From homelessness to housed, Alycia Jordan helped others throughout

  • Alycia Jordan walks along on South Main Street in Concord on Wednesday. Jordan found herself without a home and in need of the services she once helped facilitate for others. Geoff Forester / Monitor staff

  • Alycia Jordan outside Christ the King Catholic Church on South Main Street in Concord on Wednesday, August 17, 2022. Jordan found herself without a home and in need of the services she once helped facilitate for others. “It was my worst nightmare come true,” she said. “It can happen to anyone.” Geoff Forester—Monitor staff

  • Alycia Jordan outside Christ the King Catholic Church on South Main Street in Concord on Wednesday, August 17, 2022. Jordan found herself without a home and in need of the services she once helped facilitate for others. “It was my worst nightmare come true,” she said. “It can happen to anyone.” Geoff Forester—Monitor staff

  • Alycia Jordan outside Christ the King Catholic Church on South Main Street in Concord on Wednesday, August 17, 2022. Jordan found herself without a home and in need of the services she once helped facilitate for others. “It was my worst nightmare come true,” she said. “It can happen to anyone.” Geoff Forester—Monitor staff

  • Alycia Jordan outside Christ the King Catholic Church on South Main Street in Concord on Wednesday. Geoff Forester / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 8/18/2022 3:31:26 PM

When Alycia Jordan worked at the McKenna House in Concord, she never thought she’d be on the receiving end of the shelter’s services.

While studying for her associate’s degree in human services at NHTI more than 20 years ago, she interned at the Salvation Army’s homeless shelter that provides emergency housing and assistance with rental applications.

Years later, she found herself without a home and in need of the services she once helped facilitate for others.

“It was my worst nightmare come true,” she said. “It can happen to anyone.”

She always knew she wanted to help people for a living. For 25 years, she’s done so while in and out of housing herself.

But Jordan’s story is one of success, as she found an apartment by reconnecting with an old landlord who would rent to her. She’s been housed for three years in the Concord area.

It took a lot to get there, though. Sharing the story of her journey is part of a healing process for Jordan, although she gets nervous talking about it.

“I ended up coming out of homelessness with trauma and my own mental health issues of PTSD, anxiety, and so forth,” she said. “This has been a turning point for me to put the past behind me so I can see myself.”

Living unhoused

It was two days after Christmas when Jordan’s family dropped her off at a homeless shelter. After earning her bachelor’s degree in Behavioral Sciences from UNH Manchester, she moved to New Jersey for a job helping at-risk youth. It was a dream of hers, until she no longer had a place to live. With few options, she came back to New Hampshire.

“That was the beginning of the process,” she said. “I didn’t have savings, I didn’t have resources at the time to get out of the situation.”

She was left at the New Horizons Shelter in Manchester. It was her first stop of many, as she left the shelter to sleep on friends’ couches and floors.

Some of the friends Jordan grew up with were still around. One lived in Franklin. Other times, she drove as far as Michigan to sleep at a friend’s house who was willing to take her in. Despite a difficult relationship with her family, they gave her money here and there.

Most days, she would walk door-to-door applying for jobs, or visit the unemployment offices. In between, she’d sit in church.

For a period, she held a job doing so at the Sununu Youth Services Center while she was living in a shelter. But the instability of her own life put her in a position where she felt she could not help others at the time.

“My sleep schedule in the homeless shelter, the stability of the homeless shelter didn’t provide a safe environment when you’re needing to be safe yourself to take care of other people that aren’t feeling safe,” she said.

Eventually, she made her way back to the Concord area. A friend from an old mental health job had a back room with a couch where she could sleep. In return, she went to church with the friend.

She relied on old friends for a roof over her head. She found new friends who also were experiencing homelessness.

One of those friends is Kevin Kincaid, who has been “residentially challenged” for 30 years. Kincaid was sitting outside the Concord Coalition to End Homelessness’s Resource Center one day when Jordan walked up. She was having a bad day. She feared she’d end up on the street again.

So she sat down outside next to Kincaid and asked him a question.

“Do you believe in God?”

Yes, he did and the two began talking. That was three years ago and they have been friends ever since.

“It just went on from there,” she said. “People that are in these kinds of situations are actually some of the most loving and spiritual and unconditional people I’ve ever met.”

Kincaid is currently waiting for a housing voucher. Yet he and Jordan are both skeptical of its benefit due to any landlords ability to reject tenants who need rental assistance. That is in part due to assumptions about homelessness, Jordan believes.

She’s felt it personally and seen it professionally.

“There’s a real stigma for both sides of the desk. I can see both sides,” she said. “Having been homeless myself, there is a stereotype of homeless people being lazy, drug addicts, dirty. Not everybody is like that.”

As a result, help can be hard to come by.

“They don’t want to give the homeless a chance or an opportunity because of that reputation and that stereotype,” she said.

For Jordan, though, it was a former landlord who gave her another chance.

Making ends meet

It took months to furnish Jordan’s new apartment. She had a roof over her head to call her own, but no furniture to go in it.

And she didn’t have a car, making the journey to Goodwill or Salvation Army more challenging.

She slept on a borrowed air mattress, while she saved her paychecks. A mattress was one of her first purchases.

Friends gave her dishes and other items. Piece by piece, she patched together the rest.

Now Jordan, who is 52, works three jobs to support herself – one cleaning offices at night, another cleaning for Bread & Chocolate.

Through Waypoint, though, she is able to work with senior adults with mental illness. She does home visits – cooking, cleaning and running errands for clients.

She walks from job to job. Often, she’ll see familiar faces from the homeless community walking as well.

With the 0.3% vacancy rate for rentals in Merrimack County, though, there is not enough affordable housing for others to find apartments, she said.

Recently she stopped to talk to a friend who was evicted from an apartment she’d lived in for 21 years.

Jordan hopes eventually to work with at-risk youth again. She has her sights set on Tuscon, Arizona. Her dream would be to work with Native American youth.

In doing so, she’ll carry lessons she learned from the people she met, and those who helped her along the way.

“We’re all teachers and students at the same time,” she said. “You can’t judge a book by its cover. Everybody has purpose. Everybody has meaning. Everybody has something to contribute.”


MICHAELA TOWFIGHI

Michaela Towfighi is a Report for America corps member covering the Two New Hampshires for the Monitor. She graduated from Duke University with a degree in public policy and journalism and media studies in 2022. At Duke she covered education, COVID-19, the 2020 election and helped edit stories about the Durham County Courthouse for The 9th Street Journal and the triangle area's alt-weekly Indy Week. Her story about a family grappling with a delayed trial for a fatal car accident in Concord won first place in Duke’s Melcher Family Award for Excellence in Journalism. Towfighi is an American expat who calls London, England, home despite being born in Boston.



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